HAVEN By Nicky Baldrian
She has a thing for Kansas' Steve Walsh, she can sing like an angel, she's got the songs, she's amazingly gorgeous, she's got a killer band and she's worked with some of the hottest names in hard rock: ladies and gentleman, Fireworks introduces you to Pamme and her awesome band Haven whose debut album 'The Road' has just been released on Frontiers/Now And Then Records. Just don't call her Pamela, babe! I got chatting with Pamme and fellow band members Michael Brody (bass, keys & guitar) and John Vanselow (Lead & rhythm guitars), and began by delving into the origins of the band.
When did you decide to form Haven?
Pamme: The Band was actually formed a few years back when we all simultaneously answered an ad. From the moment we all met there was just this immediate and intense chemistry that demanded to be pursued further. This was our first all original band and we think it's safe to say we're "lifers".
answered an ad, which is where I met John. Then Pamme answered an
ad and joined. We played together for a few years and then kind
of took a break for a couple of years. Then I wrote a track and
called up Pamme and John and said "Wanna Rock?" That
track turned out to be 'Can You Hear Us'. The project they were
doing was called Haven. So I rejoined the Band. We work really
John: When Michael called, Pamme and I had been writing a lot of songs together and had recorded one or two songs with a producer. So we recorded 'Can You Hear Us' and after it was finished we were all excited. We decided to get together one afternoon and just let the tape recorder roll. We must have put down 20 song ideas. Pamme listened to the tape and immediately started writing lyrics. Most of the album came from that tape!
It was interesting to see Matt Sorum and Robin McAuley helping out. How did you hook up with them?
P: Well, Matt and I grew up in Orange County. Even back then, he was a monster player! I remember him playing 'Burn' by Deep Purple for me, and just blowing me away! Afterwards, he sold me this huge tambourine that barely fit in my hand, and a Queen album for 10 bucks (Which reminds me...I think I still owe him the 10 bucks!). With Robin, I actually had a dream that we were driving around in my car listening to 'The Curtain' and 'Forgiveness' and I was asking if he wanted to do background vocals with me. Two days later, my sister Lisa and I saw him at a swap meet and he was just the COOLEST! The funny thing was, a couple years earlier (which I neglected to mention) I had stood in line after a MSG concert so he and Michael could sign their poster for me! Anyway, I guess the story must have intrigued him, because soon after, we were driving around the block of his neighborhood listening to 'The Curtain' and 'Forgiveness'. I'll bet if he'd known how excited I was to
be recreating my dream, he'd never have got in the car with me, because I drove like Mr. Toad's Wild Ride at Disneyland and almost killed us at a 4-way stop!
I understand that you were in a band with Matt Sorum at one time - tell me about the band and did you record anything?
P: Yes, that's true. I've yet to play in a band with a drummer that inspires me to the heights that Matt does. He remains my all time favorite drummer to play live with! We did record but unfortunately those tapes were destroyed in a bonfire!
Did the recording of your CD go as planned, it must have been hectic to fit in with everybody's busy schedules, how did you manage it?
P: Matt and Robin are consummate professionals and are a blast to work with, so when their schedules permitted, they just came in and nailed their parts! After Robin had done his parts, Matt came in and laid down live drums to pre-recorded tracks and did the drums in 3 days. No rehearsal was necessary because Matt, not unlike Robin, is pretty much a one-take wonder. They'd just listen to the song and then say 'Let's do it!'. I recall telling Matt before hearing the songs that we had several ballads, is that cool? He responded with "Does 'November Rain' mean anything to you?" Matt is a complete and perpetual crack up - I just love that guy!
Do you enjoy collaborating with different musicians?
M: I think it can expand your experience. You might go in a direction that you normally wouldn't. Sometimes that's good and other times it's not. I'll always try to have an open mind and give it a try. You know when it feels
P: Absolutely! The energy and feedback that comes from working with other musicians can be extremely inspiring.
You recently teamed up again with Robin McAuley and also Johnny Lima, Alex Masi and Lars Eric Mattsson to record a track for the Jason Becker tribute CD. How did all this go?
P: I was contacted and asked if I would like to sing the song 'Tell The Truth' by David Lee Roth for the tribute CD ( www.lionmusic.com/jasonbecker ) you and Lars Eric Mattsson were putting together for Jason Becker. Until then I'd never sang the blues, just lived them! Lars sent me the backing tracks that he had done and we did a few vocal takes in our studio and we were surprised how good it sounded because Roth sings that song in a pretty low
register. I guess my Viagra came in handy after all! [Check out this issues cover CD and hear the track for yourselves - Nick]. Johnny somehow had found us on mp3.com and contacted us saying how much he liked the band and he would like to forward a package to a label he was on which is Now & Then/Frontiers. We asked him if he would like to contribute to the Jason Becker project and he said just tell me when and where! So Johnny flew down on a Saturday and did his vocal parts that day. In the original version the male vocals are the main part with the female vocals in the chorus. We switched it around and I sang the main vocal line and we had Johnny do the chorus. Johnny Lima is 'Sheer fun at first sight'. I'm still laughing! We then had Robin come over and do some vocal lines that we traded back and forth and also on the vamp out. We then sent the tracks back to Lars who had Alex Masi add some guitar and then he mixed it. We all had a great time recording the song and Robin
left having experienced 'the lollypop dance!'
You prefer to be called just Pamme, why's that?
Anytime I hear PAMELA I know I'm in trouble!
Is your name pronounced Pam or Pammy?
(Humming) 'You say tomatoe I say tomato, you say Soprano I say Saprano!' Truth be told... my dad did one of the first live radio talk shows in the USA. It was at that time hat the program director suggested he go by the name
Jonathan Kirby, a name that served him well through-out his broadcasting career! My dad had a captivating personality and a tremendous sense of humor, which explains him 'gifting me' with the name 'Kirby'! Perhaps my reluctance to use the name Kirby stems from going through my high school years with a close friend named Alaina 'Hoover'... (The nightmares have only just begun to subside!)
Tell me about the songs on the debut?
P: For this project, John and Michael would get together to bounce ideas back and forth. After they'd get the scratch tracks, they would then pass the ideas on to me on Adat. I would wait to have the mic on and the tape rolling before even hearing most of the parts for the first time, preferring to just wing it and improvise to whatever was on the tape. Then, we'd all get together and collectively choose the songs that we felt captured the most magic. Once we decided on which songs we would take to the next level. John and Michael laid down all the music tracks. Once again, I'd get the songs on Adat, and recorded my parts in a studio I have at the house, complete with all the necessary atmospheric 'creature' comforts of home. And by creature, I do mean CREATURE! You see, I have a lot of animals and have always found them to be very grounding, not to mention quite the enthusiastic audience! While writing this record, I endured some of the most immeasurable losses in
my life, with little or no recovery time in between. I discovered first hand just how viciously relentless grief can be. So much so, that at times, it can just threaten to consume you! Having had the music to channel the waves of
emotions into was an amazingly cathartic experience, and my hope is, that others who are going through significant heartaches of their own, will also find subjective and substantial comfort in the songs.
J: I guess you could say our songs have more of a universal message to them. We put positive and uplifting messages in our lyrics and hope that people that are going through some difficult times in their lives can find some hope and comfort from our songs.
Do you have any plans for a follow yet?
J: Yes indeed! The contract we signed is for two records with an option for a third. We have a few songs that we have recorded as demos and lots of ideas for songs on tape. The next step will be to decide on which ideas we want to turn into songs and then start recording them. We don't have a date for the release because we will have to see how the writing and recording goes, but the plan is to have a CD released next year.
Who are your inspirations musically and spiritually?
P: Steve Walsh of Kansas, Ann Wilson of Heart and Steve Perry from Journey! They are clearly phenomenal singers and I have yet to hear anyone grab hold of my heart and demand my attention at that magnitude. I also learned a lot from David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes of Deep Purple, Tommy Shaw of Styx, Lou Gramm of Foreigner and Joe Lynn Turner. Spiritually, no question - Kansas! This band inspires me with authentic emotions and made me aware of just how powerful and healing music can be. Their songs 'The Wall' and 'Hope Once
Again' bring tears to my eyes and in an instant puts me back in spirit.
M: I started playing music because of Paul McCartney. Some of the bands that inspired me include: The Beatles, Rush (Geddy Lee), Kiss, Jeff Buckley and Sting. Spiritually.....now that's a good question. There are so many teachers around us. All we have to do is listen and observe.
J: Musically I was inspired by UFO (Michael Schenker), Rush, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Robin Trower, The Beatles, Y&T and Classical Music. Spiritually I try to find inspiration in everything. It's there, we just forget it!
When you start piecing your songs together, do you go with the natural flow of what's comes out or do you start looking for some form of inspiration?
P: I believe that within certain instrumentals the story already exists and beckons to be told. The most compelling lyrics are those that find their home amidst music that not only compliments the tale but delivers the message just
M: I go with the flow. Inspiration comes when it does. It can be in the shower or in the car. Usually when I'm in that state of 'being' and not trying to force anything, ideas come flowing quite easily.
J: I think that for all of us inspiration comes when we are not looking for it. Our best songs were written that way and just seemed to come together naturally. Of course there are those songs that you just can't seem to finish
and with those you have to look for some inspiration.
Pamme, how long have you been singing for and what made you became a singer?
I can't remember not singing. It all started with a radio cassette player I got for Junior High School graduation. I spent that whole summer forcing my reluctant friends to monitor my progress as I sang them my renditions of that
summer's Top 40! And what a lonely summer that became! We are all born with innate abilities and I really do feel blessed to have discovered my purpose early on.
Is there anyone in the business you would like to write and/or perform with?
Hmm, let me see....Steve Walsh, Steve Walsh, Steve Walsh! Starting to see a pattern here aren't you? Good thing for Steve they passed that stalking law!
Have you had any unsavory experiences being a good-looking woman in the music industry, or has this worked to your advantage?
I've had a few, shall we say, narrow escapes, ending with 'How 'bout no, Scott!' Yeah, sure.....THEN you'll hear my songs and get back to me, right? I love that story! By the way, I just love Austin Powers. Mike Myers is a
How do you feel about exploiting your looks and sexuality? After all, image is a very important part of the music scene, or do you firmly believe that only the music should do the talking?
I've heard it said that's why they call it 'Show' business and realize the same goes with music industry. Ego is often an insecurity camouflage that deflates and destroys. I know some real pretty girls where after talking with them for a while you feel 'Man, I'm talking to Medusa, if I look another second I'll surely turn to stone!' whereas other people I know who maybe aren't considered your classic raving beauties just radiate this whole different vibe, a vibe so genuine it just transcends societies definition of beauty and or sexuality. Concerning looks and sexuality, it seems there is a lot of smoke and mirrors used to work that angle, so much so that at times you can lose track of your musical perspective if the whole image thing becomes to much of a focus.
What's the craziest thing that's happened to you since you launched your musical career?
It seems my whole life's been crazy! I don't think I'd know the difference.
You were asked to change the artwork for the European/Jap release. How did you feel about this? Having seen the new artwork, we think it is amazing!
P: Thank you! The new artwork does better exemplify what Haven represents.
J: At first we were a little surprised. Where I work I had sold a few hundred copies and most people always commented on how impressive the artwork was. Even people that didn't buy it would comment on how cool the cover was. Michael and I had designed it so of course we had a bit of a bias towards it. So we were thinking, 'What's wrong with it?'. The label said in a nice way it wasn't quite up to their standards. At that time we had no idea what we were going to do. So Michael contacted his friend Dan Platt and we got together and talked about some ideas and finally decided on a concept. Dan just put it all together from there. He was great to work with and he did an exceptional job. The right tool in the right hands!
The original release didn't have a title. Now it's called 'The Road'. Why?
J: We never could decide on a title so when we released it ourselves we just called the album 'Haven'. When the artwork was almost done we were all looking at the cover and we thought it needed something under the logo. So we decided to name the album. We all thought about it for a few minutes and we all agreed on 'The Road'.
P: It just seemed apropos, as we all travel down our subjective roads to ultimately the same destination.
M: 'The Road' felt right. We've all been through some unfortunate situations the last few years and the Road we've all traveled has been rough. But we've all grown and learned from these experiences.
What's in store for the future?
P: Hopefully that our music will create a ripple effect much like the bands that have and continue to inspire us.
J: The immediate future has us finishing up some publishing contracts, some more interviews and getting our website up and going. After that we will start the process for recording the next album. Hopefully the debut will be
received well and from there who knows...
M: Many wonderful things!
Is the band gonna stay a 3 piece with guests, or expand?
J: For now we are going to stay a 3 piece. We will probably have Matt Sorum play on some tracks along with Steve Klong who is also an exceptional drummer. Robin has already agreed to sing on a few songs again and we might have Johnny Lima sing a little. Lars Eric Mattsson has agreed to play on at least one track, which will be really cool. He's an awesome player!
M: The 3 of us make a unique combination of elements. It works really well for us. If we end up doing some shows overseas then we might expand at that time.
There are thousands of bands trying to make it out there - what do you think Haven has to offer that makes them that more likely to succeed?
M: What we offer is sincerity in what we do. We write from the heart and when you do that you get what I call 'Magic!'
P: We truly hope to offer a place of musical refuge and shelter on the many roads of life's uncertain highways. Our hope is also for people having heard the songs to come away thinking 'Hey, I guess I'm not the only one who feels this way and that this too will pass.'
What are your goals in life, both personal and musical? Of course, these could both be the same.
P: You're right, they are the same. My goals in life are to be an instrument for those who feel they have no hope. We're all still searching aren't we? And for our beloved animal kingdom who truly have no voice.
M: I think my over all goal is to be a happy 'Spirit'. That encompasses many things. Having the gift of writing and playing music is amazing. We sometimes take things for granted. I'm leaning to appreciate everything I have. Making music and hopefully touching people along the way will be amazing!! No worries! It's all good!
J: I try and do the best I can every day. I always ask myself at the end of the day, 'Did you do your best?'. I use that as a benchmark both for my personal and musical goals.
Is there anything you would like to say to say to your fans out there?
M: Thanks for hearing our music and being touched in someway. It's really nice to hear that people like what you are trying to convey.
J: Thanks to all of you have contacted us and told us how much you like our music. We really appreciate it when someone takes the time to write and we always try to answer every one of you.
P: Thank you for allowing us into your heads and hopefully your hearts. On with the adventure.....
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